This is a comparative study of how the ancient republics – specifically Athens, Sparta, and Rome – defined civil liberty, endeavored to make it a reality, and ultimately lost the contest. The book identifies the essential principles that were initially intended to safeguard the ancient republican definition of liberty and investigates the extent to which they actually functioned effectively. Moreover, it illustrates how each of these principles was sooner or later corrupted for one or more of the following reasons: it was incompatible with the rise of new social forces touched off especially by the growth of commerce and imperialism, was paradoxically transformed into an instrument to bolster despotism or corrupt oligarchies, was circumvented, or was ignored.
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